Kashmir: World’s Most Dangerous Border

In the Indian held Kashmir, the state human rights commission reported that its investigators had found 2,156 bodies buried in unmarked graves in 38 locations. Most were young men. Many bore bullets wounds. Grisly and horrifying this discovery is, surprisingly there has hardly been a peep from India’s allies, notably the United States and Britain, who raise such a hue and cry over civilian deaths in Libya, Iran and Syria. India shrugs off the report. There may be many more bodies to be found. Most, or all, are the product of the decades-old uprising by Kashmir’s Muslim majority against often brutal Indian rule that the outside world has largely ignored.




by Eric Margolis


The state human rights commission of the Indian-ruled portion of Kashmir reported its investigators had found 2,156 bodies buried in unmarked graves in 38 locations. Most were young men. Many bore bullets wounds.

Grisly and horrifying as this discovery was, there was hardly a peep from India’s allies, notably the United States and Britain, who have raised such a hue and cry over civilian deaths in Libya, Iran and Syria. India shrugged off the report.

There may be many more bodies to be found. Most, or all, were the product of the decades-old uprising by Kashmir’s Muslim majority against often brutal Indian rule that the outside world has largely ignored.

The fabled state of Kashmir lies in majestic isolation amid the towering mountain ranges separating the plains of India from the steppes and deserts of Central Asia. Nineteenth Century geopoliticians called Kashmir one of the world’s primary strategic pivots.

Historic Kashmir, with its distinctive Indo-European and Tibetan-Mongol peoples, has ended up divided between three nations: India, Pakistan, and China.

Some nine million Kashmiris live in the Indian-ruled two thirds of Kashmir; over three million in the Pakistani portion, known as “Azad Kashmir,” or in Pakistan proper, and small numbers in the frigid Aksai Chin plateau at over 5,000 meters altitude.

Kashmir’s Tibetan-race people mostly live in Indian-controlled Ladakh, long called “Little Tibet.” There, Tibetan culture has fared far better under India’s rule than in Chinese-ruled Tibet.

When Imperial Britain divided India in 1947, the Hindu maharaja of Kashmir opted to join the new Indian Union. But 77% of his people were Muslim (20% were Hindu, 3% Sikh and Buddhist). Muslim Kashmiris wanted to join newly-created Pakistan. Fighting erupted. India and Pakistan rushed in troops.

The cease-fire line that ended the fighting has become the de facto border between the Indian and Pakistani ruled parts of Kashmir. India claims all of Kashmir, including Chinese-occupied Aksai Chin. Pakistan also claims all of Kashmir. The United Nations called for a plebiscite to decide this issue. Pakistan accepted; India refused the UN resolution.

India and Pakistan have fought three full-scale wars over Kashmir and innumerable border clashes, some of which I have witnessed. Last week, three Pakistani soldiers were killed on Kashmir’s border (called the Line of Control) by Indian fire.

Today, hundreds of thousands of Pakistani and Indian troops confront one another in Kashmir, backed by growing numbers of tactical nuclear weapons that are on a three-minute hair-trigger alert. Kashmir is the world’s most dangerous border.

Kashmiri Muslims have resisted Indian rule since 1947. In the early 1990’s, massive uprisings erupted against Indian rule, which was enforced by 500,000 troops and ill-disciplined police. Pakistani intelligence began training Kashmir “Mujahideen” and sending them across the border to reinforce the uprising. But Pakistan’s covert support waned after 9/11.

Indian authorities blamed the uprising on “Muslim terrorists.” Indian security forces struck back with maximum brutality, leading India’s human rights groups to denounce the repression.

Muslim villages were burned; suspects were tortured; Muslim women were gang-raped by Indian border police; large numbers of young Muslim men were taken from villages and simply disappeared.

Now we know where they went – filling many of the unmarked graves discovered last month.

An estimated 80,000 Kashmiris have so far died in the uprising, the majority Muslims. Muslims also committed bloody atrocities against Hindus and Sikhs. Now, Indian rights groups are demanding that India’s high courts investigate the crimes that have been committed in Kashmir, put an end to them, and punish the guilty parties.

Continued selective moral concern on our part is unacceptable. India’s allies must encourage Delhi to face this ugly issue and end this blight on India’s democracy and good name.

Resolving the Kashmir dispute will eliminate the gravest danger faced by mankind: an India-Pakistan nuclear exchange that could kill at least 2 million initially, 100 million thereafter, and spread clouds of radioactive dust around the globe.

Kashmir has poisoned relations between sister nations Pakistan and India who are locked in this sterile conflict. Clever Indian diplomacy has long kept the Kashmir conflict in the shadows.

The solution: erase all the borders and turn Kashmir into an autonomous, demilitarized free trade zone.

copyright Eric S. Margolis 2011

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12 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Its interesting to read this article, though from what I know about the incidents of 1947, its riddled with historical inaccuracies. Whose history is it anyway? We all have our own versions and we stick to them no matter what…

    I guess historical reasons can hardly explain or justify the current scenario, the ‘real’ history remains buried and unknown to most of us.

    Somehow I would have expected a more restrained article in this space. I do not expect anything specifically pro-India here, but this article is decisively anti here. What’s the point of this? Can this bridge any gaps? Will it bring the two countries together to resolve the issue?

    Trust me this won’t happen, such a vindictive sounding piece here does none of that. But who I am to comment, its someone else’s space, someone else’s thoughts. Unfortunately our thoughts do not match, hope we will converge at some point, maybe things will move positively then.

    • Siddhartha, I do agree with you, there are many points expressed in this post which neither you nor me may agree with. Even then there are certain bitter truths expressed therein. Both of us, we as Pakistanis and you as Indians have tried to move away from these bitter facts.

      Why not face the on ground realities. Solve this issue once and for all. Eric has himself hinted to a solution. Not that this is the one both of us the Indians and the Pakistanis should accept it per se, but some start, somewhere and somewhere there it must have.

      I know Indian friends are very emotional, very sentimental on this issue, but so are the Pakistanis. But the stand that both of us have is nothing but a cul de sac.

      I think on Kashmir both India and Pakistan have to bring their moustaches down [beg my pardon for using this Punjabi term] to come to some understanding. It might not be what Pakistanis want, and likewise it might not be what the Indians want, but at least this is what this beautiful subcontinent where we live and we breathe, needs – a respite – a respite of peace, a respite of understanding and cooperation.

      Let this subcontinent usher into an era where the two of us walk hand in hand instead of fighting wars, sometimes in Jammu, another time in the paradise like vale and then again either in the high altitudes of Siachen or in Kargil.

      But to overlook this irritant, this eye sore would be like plunging this subcontinent into a perpetual stalemate which neither benefits us in Pakistan nor India.

  2. I am completely with you Dr. Hashmey, we need to come together and look for solutions. It goes without saying that the solution will have to be a compromise…that’s the truth and both our people will have to accept it.

    As I said earlier, my problem is with the language of the author. That’s all.

  3. Dr Nayyar Hashmey,

    The Pakistanis are emotional on the issue of Kashmir, likewise Indians are equally emotional on the issue of Balochistan. If you Pakistanis think that Balochistan is Pakistan’s integral part and an internal matter, so is Kashmir to India.

    Therefore, you Pakistanis will have to think how far you can stick to Kashmir. If Kashmir is not to be overlooked, so is Balochistan.

    The ball is in your court, India has no problem waiting another 100 years…… !

    • You can’t compare Balochistan with Kashmir. Perhaps you are not at all aware of the province of Balochistan. Balochistan is a province where the population is a mix of Balochis, Pashtuns, Sindhis, Hazraras and the Punjabis. Excepting some splinter groups there is no such movement in Balochistan which outright is against Pakistan. Though Balochistan is indeed an integral part of Pakistan, even if we presume there was today a plebiscite on Balochistan, the majority of population there [including all the Baloch and other ethnic populations] will vote for Pakistan; but my dear ANJAAN ADMI you can’t say that about Kashmir or would you???

      • Dr. Hashmey,
        This is your version of Balochistan, with which most Indians won’t agree.
        Nonetheless, Pakistan took two decades, starting from 1989 to radicalize the Kashmiri youth. Wait for two decades and you Pakistanis will see where Balochistan and many other parts of Pakistan stand….. ! Until then Kashmir would remain as much as an integral part of India, as Tibet is to China and Balochistan is to Pakistan.

  4. Kashmir is Muslim dominated, therefore, it belongs to India. Now this argument is out rightly being rejected by the world community, instead those who are dreaming to reign the world through demographic change are being punished as it has happened in case of Gaddafi.

  5. Note! Instead of India it is Pakistan in the above comment.

    • @Anjaan99, Dear Anjaan Admi,

      Where Pakistan would stand in next two to three decades is not for you to surmise. You guys who think that weakness of Pakistan is strength of India and likewise the Pakistani hardliners [your counterparts here] thinking that weakness of India is strength of Pakistan has brought nothing but hatred amongst these two neighbors in south Asia. To equate Kashmir with Balochistan could be a wishful thinking of such Indians who day and night call bad names and all type of ill sayings for Pakistan, the ‘shanaps’ or ‘badd dua’ in the same way as in the World War II the old simplistic ladies [whose kids were fighting against the Germans] used to call names of the Germans like : Bhagwan kre German ki toppon main keerhay parhaien”.

      So dear Anjaan Bhai, calling bad names, taunts and satirical remarks won’t do any good either to you or to Pakistan, but if you do want like this so be it. God bless you.

  6. […] 1. Kashmir: World’s Most Dangerous Border […]

  7. Indians should understand the stand of Pakistan over Kashmir issue. When Tamils were butchered in Lanka then Indian Tamils supported LTTE, even some political parties in Tamil Nadu were pro LTTE.

  8. […] 1. Kashmir: World’s Most Dangerous Border […]

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